LMB hack days: Lea Verou

Photo by Jeremy Keith, Flickr user adactio

An interview with Lea Verou at the line-mode browser hack days. 

Name: Lea Verou
Nationality: Greek
Travelled from: Athens, Greece
Profession: Web developer & designer

Why did you come to the line-mode browser hack days?

I was invited to come a few months ago and I immediately jumped in. I thought it was a fantastic idea and I wanted to be a part of it. Plus, I was incredibly excited at the prospect of visiting CERN, the place where the web was born, as well as some of the most significant physics experiments of our century.

What got you interested in the early history of the web?

I’m always interested in the history of everything I work with or like. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to use the web back then so all I knew about it came from texts and screenshots. Being able to actually use it and experience how it felt is a whole different experience and it’s almost humbling. I'm glad we were able to offer that to the rest of the world.

What part of recreating the line-mode browser did you focus on during the two days at CERN?

Since my primary expertise is CSS, I focused a lot on the CSS used to render websites in a way that simulates how they’d have looked back then. I also wrote some of the client-side JS and helped answer questions about those and to make decisions about the way we’d implement the project. Although I didn’t focus on that at all, I loved how I was able to work with Node a wee bit, it’s something I always wanted to do and never got around to.

What do you want people to take away from the experience of using the line-mode browser?

That “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Every significant human breakthrough, from cars to the web, starts simple and evolves through multiple smaller steps by multiple different visionaries. Contrary to popular belief, innovation is more often evolution than revolution. Experiencing the web in its infancy gives us unique insight in the way this evolution works, which might even inspire more innovation.

On a slightly unrelated note, I’m also hoping other people will share our fascination for digging into the archaeology of the web and will contribute to the Github repo so that this can eventually evolve as well, into a closer simulation of the original line mode browser.

Anything else you'd like to add? 

I had tons of fun these two days so I’d like to thank everybody involved in organizing this. I felt creative and I worked with some brilliant folks. We got to work on an exciting educational project that will hopefully enlighten many people about the humble beginnings of the web. At first I was worried it would be hard to work together with so many people on the same thing, at the same time, and still manage to be productive. However, it somehow worked incredibly well and the project was in high gear most of the time! Of course, we wouldn’t be able to have done it without good version control, so this taught me to love git even more.

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